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VDOT Says Roads Treacherous; Numerous Accidents Reported

Posted at 5:05 p.m.

Truck Accident

Police are receiving numerous accident reports as road conditions worsen.

Road conditions remain treacherous around the region this afternoon and there are multiple road closures throughout the county. Fairfax County 9-1-1 has received calls from drivers asking about abandoning their vehicles. These vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. If you can safely move your vehicle out of travel lanes you can call a tow truck to get the vehicle home; any vehicle left for more than 12 hours or deemed a road hazard by the police will be towed.

Abandoned vehicles may also contribute to accidents and the owner will be ticketed in this event. Exiting your vehicle puts you and other drivers in danger. If your vehicle is stuck and you are in danger, call 9-1-1, but otherwise you should have it towed.

Please remain off the roads if possible. Visibility is limited, temperatures are dropping and conditions are further deteriorating.

More than 3,800 trucks continue to plow roads in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties according to VDOT. Staying off the roads allows crews to work safely. Crews are spreading salt and abrasives, as appropriate, concentrating their response efforts on the most heavily traveled routes. VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a storm ends. This storm; however, may deliver a second punch as temperatures drop to record levels and icy conditions remain likely into Friday.

Shovel Smart: Tips for Removing Snow Safely and Without Injury

snow shovel

Posted at 1 p.m.

Several inches of snow have fallen throughout areas of the county and the storm isn’t done with us yet! Today’s snow is falling heavy and wet, so we ask that you take care while removing snow to avoid strain and injury.

Shoveling snow can by physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, but even more serious heart attacks. Please follow these safety tips when you go out in today’s wintry weather:

  1. If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.
  2. If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s okay.
  3. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time.
  4. Push the snow instead of lifting where possible. If you have a driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push.
  5. Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
  6. Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possible falling limbs, ice and snow.
  7. Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40.
  8. Dress in layers and wear warm clothing.

More in this short video:

As for sidewalks, the state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children.

Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Expect Wide Range of Road Conditions Today; Check VDOT for Updates

Posted: 9:30 a.m.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), crews made significant progress plowing roads across northern Virginia overnight, however drivers will encounter a wide range of changing road conditions across the region today as snow begins to melt. Drivers are asked to be alert to ice and snow this morning, and evolving conditions such as slush and high water throughout the day. Interstates and primary roads in Fairfax County are mostly clear and wet.

Pavement temperatures are still hovering at freezing but should rise later in the day. Crews are already seeing standing water on some roads. As snow melts, drivers are asked to be cautious of this ponding, particularly in right lanes. Crews are also working to clear clogged drains where needed. Crews have also made one pass in most subdivisions during the storm, and due to snow totals will make a second pass in most areas.

Residents are encouraged to check www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in their neighborhoods. Road problems should be reported to VDOT at 1-800-367-7623 or www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp.

Also, if you are out shoveling today, check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Parks and RECenters Closing at 2 p.m.; Lee District RECenter Closing at 4 p.m.

Due to the inclement weather, Park Authority programs, classes and events at park facilities, including RECenters, will close at 2 p.m., with the exception of Lee District RECenter, which will close at 4 p.m.

Also, all library branches and Neighborhood and Community Services programs, activities and facilities (including community, senior and teen centers) will close at 1 p.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 21. All Fastran routes, including charter trips and Children, Youth and Families (CYF) transportation, are canceled.

Dangerously Cold Temperatures and High Winds on the Way

Posted at 5:50 p.m.

Love is in the air, but as we posted on our Facebook page earlier today, so is the potential for dangerous wind chills (-15 degrees), frostbite, high winds (40-60 mph), power outages and some snow beginning around 6 p.m. today through Sunday afternoon. (forecast)

If you must go outside this evening, please bundle up. Also, remember to bring in pets and secure outdoor items. Plan to check in on homebound neighbors/friends too.

If you see someone outside and unsheltered, call 703-691-2131.

Dangerously cold temperatures and high winds

Possible Power Outages

With the high wind warning in effect tonight from 6 p.m. until 2 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, residents are advised that downed trees and power lines may result in power outages. Minor structural damage is possible and driving high profile vehicles in these conditions will be dangerous.

In case you lose electricity, be ready to report power outages.

With the potential for power outages, also be sure to charge your electronic devices — think your cellphone.

We’ll post additional information here as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Stay connected and informed — and be sure to share with friends and family.

Snow and Ice Could Impact Morning and Afternoon Commutes on Wednesday

Posted at 3:45 p.m.

VDOT logoThe Virginia Department of Transportation is asking drivers to prepare for a day-long storm tomorrow that could make driving hazardous in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.

You are encouraged to monitor weather forecasts and consider teleworking or delaying travel tomorrow. Also, plan for a longer than normal commute, with snow predicted in the morning and hazardous sleet and freezing rain beginning in the afternoon.

weather forecast Jan. 13-14, 2015

By 4 a.m. Wednesday, VDOT reports that about 700 trucks will be staged throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties to treat roads. Additional trucks may be added to handle sleet and snow during the afternoon commute.

Today, crews are pre-treating major roads and trouble spots in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties. On interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495 — including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange, I-66 at Route 29 and the Capital Beltway interchange at Route 1 — crews use liquid magnesium chloride. Problem spots on other major roads, such as the Fairfax County Parkway and routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50 and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.

Temperatures and Wind Chill Bring Dangerous Conditions

Posted at 4:25 p.m.

A wind chill advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. this evening until 8 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday morning, Jan. 8. A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This can result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly cloudy conditions overnight, then gradually becoming clear, with a low around 8 degrees. Wind chill values will be as low as -5, with blustery, Northwest winds 15 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.

What You Can Do

  • If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
  • Fairfax County’s emergency homeless shelters have additional capacity during winter months to take in people overnight who are at risk of hypothermia. Emergency personnel will determine which shelter option is best in the situation. Learn more about our emergency shelters and hypothermia program.
  • You are encouraged to check in on elderly or other housebound people you may know to make sure they have enough heat and food.
  • With the cold temperatures, snow that fell Tuesday can refreeze and create hazardous icy conditions, including black ice, so drive cautiously and be careful walking outside.
  • Remember to clear your sidewalks of snow and ice so your neighbors and children can safety walk through the neighborhood. More details about shoveling snow can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/shovel.

Pets:

  • Because the temperatures predicted over the next few days may be deadly to pets, the animal shelter is offering temporary, emergency housing for cats, dogs and small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, contact the shelter at 703-830-1100, extension 2, or call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
  • Pets, even those who typically live outdoors, should be brought inside; only take your pet outside for short bathroom breaks and do not leave your pet outdoors unattended. Also, make sure to provide access to non-frozen drinking water at all times.
  • If you care for feral, outdoor cats make sure they have access to shelter and follow these tips from the ASPCA to ensure outdoor cats are kept safe in cold weather:
  • Do not leave your pets in cars during cold weather. The inside of a car can act as a refrigerator and your pet can quickly freeze to death.

surviving winter weather infographic

Winter Weather Advisory in Effect for Tuesday Morning with Snow in the Forecast

Winter Weather Advisory Issued for Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015

Posted at 3:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for snow, in effect from 4 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6. A winter weather advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

Snow, possibly moderate at times, is expected with accumulations up to 2 inches possible under the heaviest precipitation bands. The snow is expected late tonight through Tuesday morning including the morning traffic rush, with the heaviest snow from 6 to 11 a.m. This snow, accumulating on surfaces below freezing, will make for hazardous travel conditions.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is preparing for the snow and will have crews treating area roads with salt and sand Tuesday morning, and will begin plowing after about two inches of snow has accumulated.

Tuesday’s high is expected to be above freezing (35 degrees), but the forecast calls for below freezing temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday, so be sure to dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, coat, mittens/gloves, hat and shoes/boots, and take precautions against the cold.

winter weather advisory issued for Fairfax County

Watch for signs of frostbite:

  • These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose.
  • If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

Watch for signs of hypothermia:

  • These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Get more on the forecast; learn more about staying safe during cold weather and what you can do with that snow once it falls.

 

It’s Now “Officially” Winter

preparing for snow

Posted at 9 a.m.

Today, Sunday, Dec. 21, marks the winter solstice and begins the first official day of winter. And because of this — coupled with the slight chance of snow in the forecast for this weekend — we wanted to share some snow tips to take before snow or ice arrives that will make your life a little easier.

We’re not suggesting you have to run out to the grocery store this weekend and stock up on supplies (like the squirrel above), but we do encourage you to maintain an emergency supply kit at home, work and in your vehicle and replenish it regularly so you are prepared in case of a major snow storm.

Now we do realize that these aren’t emergency-related tips, but we hope that they are something you might not have heard of before and that will ease your frustration when dealing with an ice covered car or truck.

Infographic Tips Before it Snows

While these tips are designed to help you get in and out of your vehicle easier — think less scraping and defrosting — and get moving more quickly, we do encourage you to be aware of road conditions whenever you are out and about on the county’s roadways.

The most important safety tip is to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. If we can minimize traffic on roads it’ll help VDOT snow plows clear the roads quicker while also giving public safety responders an easier path while responding to emergencies.

The National Weather Service reports that death or serious injury is more likely to occur as a result of traffic accidents than the direct impact of the storm itself.

After the Snow

If you must go outside after a snow fall (or during), be careful on walkways and roads, which can be dangerous despite appearances. Also, travel in the day if you can when visibility is better and stay on main roads (avoid back road shortcuts) that have priority for snow plowing.

Our emergency management office has lots of information and guidance on how to prepare for a winter storm. And make signing up for weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts part of your winter weather readiness efforts. You can sign up right now — it’ll only take a couple of minutes.

Top Preparedness Gifts of 2014

top preparedness gifts 2014

Posted at 11 a.m.

Not sure what to give your stubborn sister or that hard-to-buy-for uncle for their birthday or during this holiday season? Give the gift of preparedness!

Our Office of Emergency Management is pleased to announce its top gifts of 2014:NOAA Weather Radio

  • Weather Radio – A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio is like having your own emergency siren in your home. It provides forecasts, watches, warnings and other emergency information around the clock. Cost: $20-$40.
  • Emergency Food – Get creative. Put together a refillable container with their favorite long-lasting high-calorie snacks and drinks. Label it as emergency food and include information about rotating its contents every six months. Suggest they store it at work, in their car or with their home emergency kit. Cost: varies.
  • Emergency Plan – Sit down with your family and develop an emergency plan with the easy-to-use template from www.ReadyNoVa.org. Know a neighbor or relative who may need help? Spread good cheer and walk them through filling out the template too. Cost: free.
  • Can Opener – A good-quality handheld can opener will save frustration later.  We hear a can opener fits perfectly into a stocking – naughty or nice! Cost: $10-$14.
  • Emergency Vehicle Kits – You don’t want a loved one getting stuck without some roadside essentials. You could even make your own. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/make-a-kit.htm to learn more. Cost: around $30-$50.American Red Cross
  • First Aid, AED and CPR Classes – First aid, automated external defibrillator (AED) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills could save a life – maybe even yours. Visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class to learn more. This would be a great family activity! Cost: $70-$110.
  • Emergency Blanket – These are great to keep in the glove box – especially during the winter season. Cost: $5 per pack of four.

If your friends and family are already prepared with the items from the above list, consider donating to a disaster relief organization in their honor. And for more on emergency preparedness, call emergency management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711, or email oem@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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